Digiday+ Research: Smaller publishers’ post-cookie worries wane, while large publishers’ measurement worries grow
This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →
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Earlier this week, we looked at how brands and agencies are feeling about the death of the cookie as the second half of the year sets in. Now it’s publishers’ turn.
According to a Digiday+ Research survey of over 70 publisher professionals, the media industry remains worried about ad targeting and measurement without the third-party cookie, with large publishers taking on more worry than their smaller counterparts.
Digiday’s survey found that, when it comes to worries concerning ad targeting and measurement following the end of the cookie, large publishers’ concern has stayed about the same or even grown as that post-cookie reality approaches while their smaller counterparts are actually significantly less concerned than they were a year ago.
To be exact, 53% of publisher pros who work for large publishers (or those who made at least $50 million in revenue last year) said in the second quarter of this year they agree somewhat or strongly that they worry about their ability to target ads without third-party cookies, down only very slightly from the 56% who said so last year. Meanwhile, 52% of publisher pros who work for small and medium-sized publishers (or those who made less than $50 million in revenue last year) said this year they agree somewhat or strongly that they worry about their ad targeting ability post-cookie, compared with 59% last year. What’s more, the percentage of smaller publishers who said they agree strongly that they worry about ad targeting without cookies fell from 29% last year to just 19% this year.
At the same time, the percentage of large publishers who told Digiday they agree that they worry about their ability to measure ads without third-party cookies jumped from 54% in Q2 last year to 63% in Q2 this year, while those who said they disagree fell from 35% to 23% over the same period. In the case of their smaller counterparts, on the other hand, the percentage of small and medium-sized publishers who said they agree that their ability to measure ads post-cookie is worrying decreased from 62% last year to exactly half (50%) this year, with the percentage of those who said they agree somewhat (as opposed to strongly) falling from 44% to 34% in the last year.
About the same number of publisher pros who work for large publishers told Digiday they agree that the end of third-party cookies will hurt their business in Q2 this year compared with last year. Forty-six percent of large publishers agreed with this in 2022, and 45% agreed in 2023.
On the surface, there appears to be little change in this area for publisher pros who work for small and medium-sized publishers, as well: 43% of smaller publishers said they agreed the end of the cookie would hurt their business last year, and 41% said the same this year, with the percentage of those disagreeing seeing a very slight increase from 36% last year to 38% this year.
However, looking more closely at the data, many more publisher pros who work for small and medium-sized publishers said they disagree strongly that their businesses will hurt in a post-cookie world this year than last year (rather than say they disagree only somewhat). In Q2 2022, just 12% of smaller publishers told Digiday they disagreed strongly that the end of third-party cookies would hurt their business. In Q2 2023, that percentage was up to nearly a quarter (22%).
Looking at publishers overall, Digiday’s survey found that not much has changed between last year and this year when it comes to the media industry’s post-cookie worries.
In Q2 2022, 57% of publisher pros told Digiday they agreed somewhat or strongly that they worried about their ability to target ads without third-party cookies. In Q2 2023, that percentage fell just slightly to 53%. Similarly, 59% of publishers said last year they agreed that they worried about their ad measuring ability without cookies, which held fairly steady at 57% this year.
Meanwhile, the percentage of publishers who said they agree that the end of third-party cookies will hurt their business stayed exactly the same between Q2 2022 and Q2 2023: 44% of publisher pros told Digiday they agree their business will hurt in the post-cookie era both last year and this year.
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